Mitch McConnell to Kentucky Capitol: Lose the Jefferson Davis Statue

The Senate majority leader told reporters Tuesday that the memorial belongs in a museum, not the statehouse.

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Nora Kelly
June 23, 2015, 11:38 a.m.

Con­fed­er­ate pres­id­ent Jef­fer­son Dav­is is me­mori­al­ized in the South through myri­ad monu­ments and statues. He’s in­side the Cap­it­ol’s marbled Statu­ary Hall. His “White House” is open to tour­ists in Rich­mond. And there’s a high­way in South Car­o­lina named for him.

But at a press con­fer­ence on Tues­day, in the midst of a na­tion­al de­bate over the pro­pri­ety of Con­fed­er­ate im­ages, Sen­ate Ma­jor­ity Lead­er Mitch Mc­Con­nell iden­ti­fied one place where Dav­is shouldn’t be: the Cap­it­ol build­ing in his home state of Ken­tucky. A statue of Dav­is stands along­side former Pres­id­ent Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln—his Civil War ad­versary—and oth­er Ken­tucky-born lead­ers.

After last week’s deadly shoot­ing at a his­tor­ic­ally black church in Char­le­ston, South Car­o­lina, im­ages emerged of the sus­pec­ted gun­man’s af­fin­ity for the Con­fed­er­ate flag, spur­ring de­bate over wheth­er the Con­fed­er­ate sym­bol should be rep­res­en­ted on state prop­erty. Ac­cord­ing to re­port­ers at the news con­fer­ence, Mc­Con­nell said that a “more ap­pro­pri­ate” loc­a­tion for the Dav­is statue would be a state mu­seum. This week, Mc­Con­nell ex­pressed sup­port for South Car­o­lina Gov. Nikki Haley’s call to re­move the Con­fed­er­ate flag from the state­house grounds in Columbia.

(RE­LATED: Jeb Bush’s Clear Re­cord on the Con­fed­er­ate Flag)

This isn’t the first time that Dav­is’s place of hon­or in the Ken­tucky Cap­it­ol has been ques­tioned. Earli­er Tues­day, a Ken­tucky gubernat­ori­al can­did­ate called for its re­mov­al, and last year, a former state treas­urer star­ted an on­line pe­ti­tion to re­place Dav­is’s statue with a me­mori­al to box­er Muhammed Ali, who was born in Louis­ville.

“Every day, Amer­ic­ans of all polit­ic­al stripes are work­ing to tran­scend the scars left by slavery and its af­ter­math,” the former treas­urer, Jonath­an Miller, wrote in a blog post in Novem­ber. “And every day, walk­ing through our Com­mon­wealth’s cathed­ral, our most im­port­ant cit­izens—from the of­fi­cials who lead the state, to the school­chil­dren who vis­it our cap­it­al—pass by the white statue that daily pours salt in­to our na­tion’s deep­est wound. “¦ Jef­fer­son Dav­is, it’s time for you to go.”

Also Tues­day, Minor­ity Lead­er Harry Re­id said the mas­cot and nick­name of the Uni­versity of Nevada, Las Ve­gas—the Run­nin’ Rebels—should be re­con­sidered by the school’s Board of Re­gents. The school is well aware of its brand­ing’s ties to the Con­fed­er­acy.


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